SEO Basics: How to Get Banned From Google by Using a Doorway Page
Google's "Death Penalty"
For most offenses, Google lowers a website's rankings. But if Google classifies a page as a doorway page, Google will completely ban it from its index. Some search engine optimization (SEO) experts refer to this as the "death penalty," because users can’t find your website using a Google search. Your site is banned from Google, like Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
What is a Doorway Page?
Google has said it considers a page a "Doorway Page" when it contains large numbers of "poor-quality pages" that are "optimized for a specific keyword or phrase."
For example, imagine the owner of an online shop that sells plastic Dracula teeth. To funnel users to the site, he creates a large number of portal web pages. He might create apply basic SEO principles to create pages optimized for associated long-tail phrases like "scary teeth," "scary fangs," "fang insert teeth," "Halloween teeth," and "Halloween fangs." Since the purpose of these pages is to send people to the main shop, he doesn't spend much time on content for each page. Instead, he repeats these key phrases many times, and then sprinkles the page with links to the main online shop. He feels he has used legitimate SEO techniques to create the page and that, in the end, the page serves a legitimate purpose.
However, Google will consider these pages "doorway pages" and will likely ban them from its index. That's because their main purpose is to serve as a funnel to another site — they have relatively little independent value. Google frowns on all pages that attempt to, in its words, "deceive users by directing them to sites other than the ones they selected." To Google, the webmaster has used SEO techniques for an illegitimate purpose.
In other words, Google won't index pages that mainly serve to direct users to another page. Each page must have some sort of independent value. Note that websites that help users find the best price on a product don't violate this rule, since they provide users with independent value.
If you insist on creating a page that you know might be considered a doorway page, you should always place the page in a separate domain. If you do not, Google might ban your entire site from its index — a potentially devastating blow.
Note that your competition can always claim that your site is a doorway page, triggering a Google investigation. Google encourages webmasters to tag a page as a doorway page by marking it as spam in their webmaster tools account. Or, a Google employee may independently review the site and determine it is a gateway page.
How do you avoid the death penalty? Review each page and ask yourself it has independent value, or if, in effect, it really does little more than funnel a user to another page.
If worst comes to worst and a page is banned, you can request that Google reconsider your site. Before you do so, you should carefully evaluate the content of the page and ask yourself if it has any independent value on its own. If not, change the page before submitting it for reconsideration.
Because competitors can accuse you of operating a doorway page, every webmaster should carefully examine each page and ask, "If I were Google, might I think this page is a doorway page?" Those who fail to do so may find their pages banned from Google's index.